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There's a lot of this "Google owns your content" business going around right now. It's very much false. Here's my comment on the topic:

The fear-and-hype-inducing quote below (which is taken out of context) is not the whole story. In the TOS, the sentence preceding the quote is far more important: "Some of our Services allow you to submit content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours."

So it's clear that Google doesn't "own" your content. Google does go on to give themselves broad license to "use" your content in certain ways (which is in keeping with other similar terms of service offered by similar services, and which is likely more to cover themselves for normal operations than anything else).

In speaking personally with Google engineers I've been extremely impressed by the measures taken to ensure the security and privacy of user data. I know I trust their measures far more than anything I (or any school district for instance) could implement. It's my understanding that none of your mail or docs or other private information is even human readable by the people at Google. But exploring these somewhat secret technical measures is a topic for another post. ;)

Here's the actual (very readable) TOS for all Google Services (including Drive): http://www.google.com/intl/en/policies/terms/ (See "Your Content in our Services")

Don't panic. ;)
 
Google Drive -- terms can be found here:
"Your Content in our Services: When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide licence to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes that we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.
The rights that you grant in this licence are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This licence continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing that you have added to Google Maps)."

The last sentence makes all the difference. While these rights are limited to essentially making Google Drive better and to develop new services run by Google, the scope is not defined and could extend far further than one would expect.
Simply put: there's no definitive boundary that keeps Google from using what it likes from what you upload to its service.
The chances are Google's terms will never be an issue -- and it is likely over-zealous lawyers making sure Google doesn't somehow get screwed in the long run by a lawsuit -- but it may be enough to push away a great number of entrepreneurs and creative workers who rely on holding on to the rights to their own work.
The fact is, according to its terms, Google may own any code or product you ultimately upload to its new Google Drive service, whether you realise it or not.
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Christopher Donohue's profile photoChris Bell's profile photoJac de Haan's profile photoMark Wagner's profile photo
6 comments
 
Agree, normal scare mongering with anything new or others with vested interests.
 
Agree, that fear mongering is a problem here.
 
Well put Mark, there's already enough FUD to go around...
 
Conversations about TOS are an essential part of becoming media literate.

It is confounding how much noise there is about Google's TOS from people who are actively uploading and posting their entire lives on Facebook.
 
Every time they roll out a new product, the hysteria ensues.
 
FYI, for organizations the language is even stronger... here it is from the Google Apps for Education TOS: "6.1 Intellectual Property Rights. Except as expressly set forth herein, this Agreement does not grant either party any rights, implied or otherwise, to the other’s content or any of the other’s intellectual property. As between the parties, Customer owns all Intellectual Property Rights in Customer Data, and Google owns all Intellectual Property Rights in the Services."
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